Seeing, Believing, and Feeling
Advancements in GIS and media technologies have created opportunities for developing realistically and geographically-accurate representations of the environment that can be recognized and related to as "real places." In turn, these "geovisualizations" can connect with the meanings, values, beliefs and/or feelings people associate with places, i.e., their "sense of place," which positions them as powerful place-based tools for inclusive and collaborative environmental management efforts. However, despite their place-based applications, geovisualization studies rarely explicitly incorporate place theories and concepts. This lack of integration is reflected in the current state of knowledge, as much of geovisualization research has advanced knowledge on technological capacity for processing and rendering images from spatial data, whereas knowledge on how people interact with and use these tools in collaborative management strategies has lagged behind. This research effort serves as a move toward addressing this knowledge gap by explicitly illustrating the relationship between sense of place and applications of geovisualizations in collaborative management. This work employs ideas from research on human-media interactions and conceptual models from research on sense of presence to synthesize a coherent theory on how geovisualizations can function as place-based tools. In addition, through a review of landscape visualization studies, this work provides evidence of that geovisualizations can operate as place-based tools, and this evidence includes observations on these tools’ capabilities for communicating "meaningful information" on places, eliciting responses reflective of particular place-based values, and evoking emotional responses associated with places.